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Hebrew University scientists succeed through stem cell therapy in reversing brain birth defects
Date:12/29/2008

gnant mice who were exposed to organophosphate (a pesticide) and heroin. This was done by direct neural stem cell transplantation into the brains of the offspring. The recovery was almost one hundred percent, as proved in behavioral tests in which the treated animals improved to normal behavior and learning scores after the transplantation. On the molecular level, brain chemistry of the treated animals was also restored to normal.

The researchers went one step further. Puzzled by the stem cells' ability to work even in those cases where most of them died out in the host brain, the scientists went on to discover that the neural stem cells succeed before they die in inducing the host brain itself to produce large number of stem cells which repair the damage. This discovery, finally settling a major question in stem cell research, evoked great interest and was published earlier this year in one of the leading journals in the field, Molecular Psychiatry.

The scientists are now in the midst of developing procedures for the least invasive method for administering the neural stem cells, which is probably via blood vessels, thus making the therapy practical and clinically feasible.

Normally, stem cells are derived from individuals genetically different from the patient to be transplanted, and therefore the efficacy of the treatment suffers from immunological rejection. For this reason, another important avenue of the ongoing study, toward the same goals, will be to eliminate the immunological rejection of the transplant, which will become possible by taking cells from the patient's own body -- from a place where they are easily obtained -- by manipulating them to return to their stem cell phase of development, and then transplanting them into the patient's brain via the blood stream. One important advantage of this approach will be to eliminate the controversial ethical issues involved in the use of embryo stem cells.


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Contact: Jerry Barach
jerryb@savion.huji.ac.il
972-258-82904
The Hebrew University of Jerusalem
Source:Eurekalert  

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